Nine-year-old Chloe Green bristled when asked if it was comforting to be surrounded by so many kids at camp with a congenital heart condition like her.
"It doesn't really mean anything, it feels the same because we're just normal people," Chloe said defiantly from Auckland Heart Kids Camp in Henderson Valley this week.
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"We just talk about what you would normally talk about with your friends: like your personality, and what you like."
Chloe, it must be admitted, does have a bit of remarkable experience though alongside other kids like her - those with "zipper" scars descending down their chest.
The "zipper" is a mark of open heart surgery at some point in their young lives.
She is one of three kids from the same small Canterbury school Kaiapoi North who live with a congenital heart condition.
Maddie Gascoyne, 12, Lleyton Barrow, 9, and Chloe all travelled up from the 11,000 strong town of Kaiapoi just outside Christchurch for the Heart Kids Camp this week.
Kaiapoi North principal Jason Miles described all three children as "remarkable".
"They are very resilient, very courageous children, and they certainly do their best not to make their condition known to people. They just want to try to get involved with everything in the school," Miles says.
Miles says they don't overly emphasise the trio of kids' condition to their fellow students, but they are aware.
Kaiapoi North teachers all have a first aid certificate they update in a staff refresher course every two years.
"The other students know if they are changing colour, they need to let an adult know, but the teachers have some special sessions with the health nurses, and there is a teacher aide that is assigned to Lleyton - they monitor him constantly throughout the day," Miles says.
"But the other students don't treat them differently. Maddie is one of our top sports students.
"I think the fact they have the challenges makes them more keen to get involved in life."
Lleyton Barrow exudes the same brave bravado as Chloe does.
The Year 5 student has Tetralogy of Fallot and long QT syndrome - a heart condition that could cause him to go into cardiac arrest at any stage.
As a result he has to carry a portable defibrillator with him in a backpack constantly - before he is old enough to have a pacemaker.
"We have my defibrillator just in case I faint, then we use it to get my heart going again. I have to carry it all the time, everywhere," Lleyton says matter-of-factly.
His total indifference to the gravity of the lifesaving device, suggests it has always just been a routine accessory of his life.
What has also become routine during this camp is the "zipper" chest scar which kids compare with pride at mealtimes.
"Basically everyone in our group has a zipper. I do, Seth does, Chloe does, Aiden does. My Mum doesn't," Lleyton says.
Heart Kids Camp PR specialist Anna Thomas says the camp has a doctor and four nurses on the premises for the duration of the five-day camp.
The supervisors are all either parents of the kids or past Heart Kids Camp kids themselves who are giving back as young adults.
"It's the most amazing thing. The comment from most of the parents, they all say 'these kids used to be the different one in their group and here we are in this camp and we're all the same'," Thomas says.
"So they're taking off their shirts and really proud, and 'oh look at mine, mine's bigger than yours'."
Claire Sword is mother to Lleyton and shares one of his conditions: Long QT syndrome.
Sword was on the same Heart Kids Camp back in 2000 and is supervising this year in Henderson Valley.
"You're pretty normal aren't ya, you do things a normal kids does," Sword says to Lleyton.
"I saw you at dinner the other night. You were sitting there comparing your scars.
"That's a cool thing because Lleyton goes to school with wee Chloe, so he knows another kid with a heart defect.
"Some of these kids have a lot of ongoing stuff. And they're all very different, but with similar journeys."
Maddie Gascoyne, aged 12 and in Year 8, is a little older than her other two Kaiapoi North schoolmates, and says she only discovered they also lived with heart conditions after seeing them at a Heart Kids gathering in Christchurch.
Maddie, like Chloe, was born with atrial septal defects (ASD) which is a birth defect that causes a hole in the wall between the heart's upper chambers: the atria.
More so than her younger classmates, Maddie has appreciated the experience to mingle with kids who can relate to the medical trials she has experienced.
"It's quite cool because you know you've been through what they have, and it's cool to catch up with some of the friends you've met the year before," Maddie says softly.
"I don't often do stuff like this, meeting everyone. It's nice."
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